- An iPad 2 for Every Student in Honors Seminar: A Pilot Program. Panelists: Edward P. Kardas, Deborah Wilson, and Suraj Manandhar
- Using the Non-Cognitive Questionnaire in Honors College Admission and Retention. Panelists: Deborah Wilson and Edward P. Kardas
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Good news arrived recently. The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) has accepted the two proposals SAU submitted. They will be presented at their meeting in Phoenix (October 19-23, 2011). The panels are:
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
The SAU Honors College held its annual awards dinner tonight. Here are my after dinner remarks:
Before I begin to pontificate, I’d like to thank all of you for taking the time from your busy schedules to spend a couple of hours with us tonight. The SAU Honors College is very happy that you have accepted our invitation to celebrate the achievements of our graduating class. The work of the Honors College is accomplished by a number of people; all of whom work very hard because they believe in the mission. We would not be here tonight celebrating without David Wingfield. David and I go back a long time. We met in Oklahoma! Not the state but the play when we both had dark hair only. It’s easier to say what David does not do, than what he does. He does everything basically and is not a bad mind reader either. Please give him a round of applause.
Next I’d like to recognize our two student staff members: Lilli Hollensworth and Suraj Manandhar. Lilli is a freshman chemistry major and Suraj is a first-year graduate student in Computer Science. He is our graduate assistant. He is also the point man for our iPad 2 Pilot Project. I assume you have heard of our iPad 2 Pilot Project? Next year everyone student enrolled in Honors Seminar will receive an iPad 2 to keep. The money to pay for those will come from the annual honors stipend of $600. It just so happens that $600 will buy an iPad and a little software. Current students will also have the opportunity to use their stipends to purchase an iPad as well. Let’s see the hands of you who may be considering such a purchase. Thank you.
You have also met already some the officers of the Honors College Association and members of the Banquet Committee: Chris Harris, Ben Bower, Majesta Miles, Stephanie Dawson, Kristen Sams, Amanda Cannon, James Schlag, C. J. Heaton, James Brinkley, Kody Kasper, Hayden Kopplin, and Samson King. Let’s give them a hand too.
The interesting thing about the Honors College Association is that it did not exist two years ago. It was formed thanks to the hard work and dedication of the students you just met and others. They came to me two years ago and asked me to name officers for them. I quickly refused and asked them to organize themselves. As you can see from the insert in your program, they are now HIGHLY organized. One of the things that David and I attempt to get across to our honors students is that it is all up to them. He and I don’t lead, we enable. The HCA just came to me a few days ago with plans to spend Spring Break in Florida working the Honors Council at the University of West Florida. That honors council was voted the best in the nation in 2003. Our HCA wishes to improve and thus is looking to learn from one of the best. You may also have heard about the Honors Haul 5k race? That was another initiative they organized from the ground up. That is one of the characteristics of the SAU Honors College; students are responsible for it. David and I are merely the current custodians of THEIR Honors College.
I’d also like to welcome another group, the Honors College Council. This group is also just two years old and represents a broad cross section of community leaders from throughout Southwest Arkansas. They are not paid a nickel, and serve because they see the promise of the Honors College. They, in fact, contribute more than their time; they contribute their expertise and they make gifts to support the Honors College. I’d like to introduce them to you now, please hold your applause until the end: Jane Alexander, Erma Brown, Todd Connelly, Dale Dunn, Charles Elliott, JuJuan English, Harold Fincher, Chris Gilliam, Sherry Hawkins, Greg Jetton, David Peppers, Alvin Rucks, Virgina Todd, and Kelvin Wyrick. The most important thing that our council members do is to spread the gospel, the good news of the Honors College.
Also please take note of the markers on your tables. Each of those indicates a sponsor who made a minimum contribution of $100. Running the Honors College takes money, more money than SAU or the state of Arkansas can contribute. I’m happy to announce that the Honors College has just exceeded $10,000 in contributions. You may have noticed our subtle reminder. Each of you now has an envelope that you can take home. Later, you can decide how much you’d like to send the SAU Foundation in order to support our work. You’ll notice that we have already checked where that donation should go! We use the money to enhance the education of our students by buying equipment for faculty to teach honors courses, to fund field trips, and to send students to conferences.
Finally, thanks must go out to everyone at SAU from president Rankin on down. I can honestly say that no one has refused the Honors College anything it has asked for. Due to a scheduling conflict, some of our faculty are in the building but are attending another ceremony. We’ll avoid that conflict next year. So, before I introduce honors faculty to you please realize that not all could attend tonight. So, let me ask the SAU faculty who are here tonight to stand and receive our thanks.
I hope you enjoyed the food. David and I picked the same menu that we had during January’s Honors Council meeting. Don’t worry, Council members, we’ll eat something different next January. Let’s give ARAMARK and its staff a hand.
The Honors College could not exist in a vacuum. We are integral members of the many communities around us. We understand that and thank all of you for allowing us the privilege to work and live here. Thank you for coming to our dinner and awards ceremony.
So, a lot of extraordinary people have come together to put together the Honors College and its programs. The Honors College is not your standard group of people.
There is much talk about standards these days. I thought I’d spend some time on some of the many ways we use the word standard today. The first example I thought of was of the standard bearer, the person charged with holding a regiment’s colors aloft in the heat of battle. The color guard we all still see today is a remnant of that use of the word standard. The standard being the flag, the pennant, or the guidon used to tell troops where to be at any given moment. Honors College does not have a flag of its own but the graduates you met tonight serve as our standards to follow.
Another common use of the word standard is to designate ordinary expectations. We speak here of how things should be and we use words like substandard to communicate when something is below our ordinary expectation. Here in Arkansas, for instance, we worry about whether our children might be attending a substandard school district. One, perhaps, that does not have sufficient funds or competent enough teachers. Another way we use the word is when we buy a car with a standard transmission, although those are really no longer “standard” in the sense we are now exploring. The new “standard” is not a standard transmission. It is an automatic transmission that is ordinary today.
We also speak of things beyond our usual expectations, when they are above average or superior. Think of the things we don’t expect: rear view cameras on cars, for example, don’t come standard. They are extra. (Arnold-Baker sells them for over $35,000 btw). Having an Honors College, too, is not standard. It is not something that we ordinarily expect to see in a college or university. Honors College is not standard in that sense. The fact that we are all here tonight is NOT expected is NOT part of our standard way of looking at a college. One main reason, of course, why we are here is because of the foresight of our president, David Rankin. Who, back in 2003 had the vision to recognize that SAU needed an Honors College. Another reason was the able leadership of our founding director, Dr. Lynne Belcher. She, nearly singlehandedly, shepherded the early growth of the Honors College. She was the one who recruited and nurtured the graduates you met tonight.
Those graduates are not standard either. Obtaining an honors diploma from Southern Arkansas University is not standard. Where SAU will award a few hundred degrees soon she will only award EIGHT honors degrees. Why is that?
The truth of the matter is simple. It is not easy to obtain an honors degree. There are plenty of easier ways to graduate from college than to stick to the standards of the Honors College. What are those standards? The first is GPA. Every honors college graduate MUST keep a GPA of 3.25 or higher. Compare that to the SAU minimum requirement a 2.00 GPA. Folks, that is a BIG difference. The standard way of doing things is far from the Honors College way. Second, honors students must complete 24 hours of honors classes. That comes to 20% of their courses that must be honors courses. Their curriculum then is not the standard curriculum.
Our graduates are not standard either, although they have met, and in most cases, exceeded our standards. Their AVERAGE GPA was 3.67! Ranging from a low of 3.4 to a high of 4.0! Ladies and gentleman that is not standard! Not by any means. I’d like for our graduating class to stand up and for you to give them another round of applause, one they richly deserve. Honors College graduation, however, is not the end of the line. They know that. It is just another step along a long journey. It is time for us to bid them farewell and to wish them continued success.
Now I’d like to address the bulk of the audience, our current students. You have just glimpsed your futures, perhaps. I say perhaps because your journey at SAU is not yet reached its end. You still must meet the standards that these seniors already have. We all know that this is not the easiest path to follow, that there are other, more standard, ways to get your degree. So, one reason we have invited you here tonight is to reward what you have already accomplished during your time here and to ENCOURAGE you to persist, to meet or exceed the standards the Honors College has set for you. It can be done! Eight of your colleagues have made it. Everyone in this room wants you to make it back to this ceremony too. Let me ask our current and yet-to-graduate honors students to stand and be recognized. You too, are the reason we are here tonight and everyone in this room wants to see you wearing the Honors College medallion when you graduate.
The Honors College is not the standard college experience. It has higher standards for its students. At the same time, each honors graduate has become a standard for others to follow and to emulate. Honors College does not represent business as usual. Instead, it represents the effort necessary to exceed the standard way of doing things. We salute our graduates and award winners. You truly represent the standard for us to follow. Thank you and continue to inspire others to live up to the high standards you have met.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Saturday was the last day of the Southern Regional Honors Council meeting. SAU students Chris Harris, Samson King, Thomas Kue, and Suraj Manandhar along with faculty members Deborah Wilson and Ed Kardas presented a panel discussion: Preliminary Research Prior to Implementing an iPad 2 Honors Seminar Course. Missing was Carter Jones (for personal reasons). After giving the panel we all realized that there will be a lot of work involved in preparing for the iPad 2 Pilot Project. Here is a picture of the panelists:
From L to R: Ed Kardas, Deborah Wilson, Chris Harris, Suraj Manandhar, Samson King, & Thomas Kue
After that panel, we all walked back to our hotel, the Marriott Courtyard, to check out and load the bus. After those tasks were completed, we walked back to the Peabody Hotel for the final sessions of the meeting. Nimendra Mawalagedara read her paper, Hamas: The Transition from Terrorism to Democracy, to a packed room. At the same time, Deborah Wilson led a panel consisting of three honors directors: Rebecca Oliver (Arkansas State University), Barbara Pemberton (Ouachita Baptist University), and Ed Kardas (Southern Arkansas University). Also participating was faculty member and chair of Arkansas State's psychology department, Loretta McGregor. Many students attended and the free ranging discussion covered a gamut of topics including:
- Test scores and GPA
- Residence Halls and Honors
- Best Practices
- Student Concerns and Issues
The work finally done, we hoofed back to the bus a made our way back home. First, however, we stopped for lunch in Malvern. Many of us decided to take a chance at a Chinese food buffet near the Walmart and were quite pleased with their fare.
From L to R clockwise: David Wingfield, Arun Sharma, Gloria Lee (hidden), Joy Tan, Nimendra Mawalagedara, Suraj Manandhar, Subir Shakya, Olawale Ajigbotafe, & Clay Kardas.
Clay Kardas drove up after school Friday and attended sessions Saturday. He will attend Arkansas State's Honors College next year. He met with their director and assistant director. He also got to visit his godmother, Loretta McGregor.
Next year, SRHC will be in Tampa, 1000 miles away. The SAU Honors College commits to send students who are on the program with a paper or poster. But, I won't be driving you by bus that far.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Here is how our day started. That's a fire engine in the center back of the picture. Someone in the condominiums threw a fire alarm at 3:00 a.m. Everyone had to evacuate the building. I took this picture from the cab of the SAU bus.
I could not get back to sleep. That's the Clinton Library at dawn.
Xi (Western) Wu standing by his poster.
Courtney Fricks and Samson King pose in front of their poster.
Lunch was good. It was roast chicken over mashed potatoes with green beans. There was a praline cheesecake for dessert. Here Sun (Gloria) Lee and Pui (Joy) Tan stop briefly while I shoot their picture.
Thomas Kue, Tyler Chafin, and Samson King strike a pose at lunch.
Arun Sharma, Olawale Ajibotafe, and Suraj Mandandhar eating at their own table.